The Null Device

Everett True vs. the People of Australia

Veteran British music critic Everett True, one of the founders of Plan B magazine, has recently moved to Brisbane, Australia, and is not impressed with the Australian music press:
Australians don't have much respect for the music press - it runs counter to their culture. Australian rock is all about "Good on ya, mate - well done for getting up on stage and switching that amplifier on". The idea of anyone actually daring to criticise musicians for the sound they make is almost heresy. Everyone is treated equally, which means no knocking anyone back, however great the temptation. (That'll be why Australian rock is best known to the outside world for such musical abominations as Silverchair, the Vines and Savage Garden.) Sport is the predominant culture here, and music is similarly viewed as a leisure activity - it's all about "work rate", "dedication" and "goals scored". Unsurprisingly, Australians get the music press they deserve.
Recently, I was interviewed by a handful of street press writers to promote a show I was playing in Brisbane with ace pick-up garage band Young Liberals. The first question out the blocks every time was, "What do you do when you have to interview a band you don't like?" Excuse me? I don't understand the query. You're getting paid less than a pittance (if you're getting paid at all) for writing for a crappy free magazine given away on the streets of your city ... and you're interviewing bands you don't like? Why? What is the point? These magazines are free: their financial stability and continuing existence have nothing to with sales figures. Why not feature who the fuck you like? "Ah..." the "journalists" bleat. "It's because of the advertisers ..."
Simply, there are two types of advertiser. The first thinks that appearing in shitty free, badly-designed publications that nobody bothers to read and everyone throws away after glancing through the live ads is the best way to promote their clients' wares; basically, by supporting what amounts to paid-for advertorials. The second realises that their clients are actually far better served by appearing in "cool" (passionate/hip/intelligent) magazines because this coolness reflects back upon their client, and makes their wares seem far more attractive to the casual consumer.
Mind you, the Australians seem a bit unamused by True's prononcements, in particular a throwaway line rubbishing local Seattle-sound institution Silverchair and landfill-indie rockers The Vines. Whether it's the case that Australians are a bit chippy about Poms rubbishing their local boys, while it's acceptable (and indeed the done thing) for Australians to lop down their own tall poppies, they will circle around them and defend them if an outsider comes in and tries it, or just that True was pontificating from a position of ignorance (JJJ is not Melbourne-based, or at least it wasn't last time I checked), with no small measure of cockiness, is open to interpretation. And here is the Mess+Noise (i.e., a bit like a local Drowned In Sound, only with extra lolcats) thread.

There are 3 comments on "Everett True vs. the People of Australia":

Posted by: datakid Sun Aug 24 08:07:17 2008

and then there is Helen Razer on the same topic in the New Matilda:

http://newmatilda.com/2008/08/19/why-cant-we-take-criticism

Posted by: gjw http://atriplex.info Sun Aug 24 11:46:20 2008

I killed off my aspirations to rise within the Adelaide music scene some years back by publicly complaining about the attention, fanfare and awards given to a forgettable nu-metal band called the "Testeagles", at a time when the likes of Sweet William were making beautiful sounds and getting ignored. An "industry" heavyweight told me to hold my tongue - how dare I criticize ANY South Australian band? Didn't I know they were trying to make it BIG?

Posted by: acb http://dev.null.org/acb/ Sun Aug 24 21:57:41 2008

And then there was the 3-chord grunge/alternative-rock monoculture in the 1990s, at the expense of anyone doing anything more innovative. Where the Australian music scene interfaces with the media, the results often aren't pretty.

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